(May 19th 1925- February 21st 1965)
He was born as Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska. He was the fourth of seven children. His father was a preacher and a firm believer in the principles of Marcus Garvey (a pan-African activist).
- His father was killed when he was 6 years old and his mother was placed in a mental institution when he was 13 years old. He lived in a series of foster homes after that. Malcolm and his siblings secured their mother’s release 24 years after that.
- He moved to Harlem in 1943 where he learned to live the rough life. In Harlem, he gambled, sold drugs, pimped and robbed. He was referred to as ‘Detroit Red’ because he had red hair.
- He was arrested in 1946 for larceny and breaking & entering. He was sentenced to 8-10 years in Charlestown state prison.
- Whilst incarcerated he was approached by a fellow convict called John Bembry; who helped school him on the teachings of Elijah Mohammed and the Nation of Islam. The Nation of Islam preached ultimate black self-reliance and the return of the Africans in Diaspora to Africa.
- He became a devout Muslim in 1948 after he wrote a letter to Elijah Mohammed who told him to submit himself to Allah. He quit eating pork, smoking, stopped engaging in destructive behaviour and promised not to date white women again. Due to the teachings of the Nation of Islam, he started to view white people as devils.
- In 1950, the FBI opened a file on Malcolm because he wrote a letter to president Truman identifying as a communist and expressing his opposition to the Korean War. He replaced his last name with “X” because he felt the name “Little” was a slave name given to his forefathers.
- In 1953 after his parole, he became a minister in the Nation of Islam and he rose quickly in ranks. He became the second most influential preacher after Elijah Mohammed. He got married to Betty Sanders in 1958 and they went on to have 6 children, all girls. His wife was pregnant with the last 2 children (twins) when he was murdered.
- In 1964, Malcolm left the Nation of Islam (NOI) due to a falling out with Elijah Mohammed. He found out that Elijah Mohammed had extramarital affairs with a couple of young women. He said Elijah Mohammed also prevented him from working with other civil rights leaders. He travelled to Africa and went on a pilgrimage to Mecca where he saw different races coming together. This made him believe that true Islam was the solution to racial Inequality. He went on to start an organisation called the Muslim Mosque Inc.
- Throughout 1964 he received death threats, some he believed were from the NOI. He was killed on the 19TH of February 1965, in front of a crowd while he was trying to address the organisation of Afro-American Unity. His wife and children were present.